Today’s warning is courtesy of several different comment conversations on several different posts around the internet. If you are still on active duty, (ahem, my husband), please, please make the time to seek proper medical care for your various issues, and get this stuff documented out the wazoo.
When it comes time to leave the military, you will need to have your military-related medical conditions evaluated by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). This is part of the process to receive disability compensation and VA medical care. Now, I know many active duty folks who say that they don’t want VA medical care, or that they don’t think they should take disability compensation. And that could be true – now. But none of us know what the future holds. Having a complete and accurate assessment through the VA is part of the process of keeping the door open to those two important benefits, benefits that you might discover that you want or need in the future.
There are a couple of scenarios in which failure to do this can become important. Most frequently, one of your small-but-manageable service-related conditions may suddenly get much worse. Let’s say you injured your knee jumping out of perfectly good airplanes. It doesn’t bother you too much now, but in five years it might make you unable to do your retiree civilian job. However, if you don’t have documentation that it occurred as part of your military service, you’re in trouble in terms of compensation and medical care from the VA.
Even if you don’t ever expect to use VA care, and you don’t think that your medical issues warrant disability compensation at this time, do your future self a favor and pursue these issues thoroughly and make sure it is well-documented. Your future self says, “thank you.”